The International Law Commission’s recent work on exceptions to immunity : charting the course for a brave new world in international law?

11 Jan 2019

In the summer of 2017, the International Law Commission adopted a draft article on exceptions to immunity. The Draft Article adopted provides that immunity ratione materiae does not apply with respect to certain international crimes, namely crimes against humanity, the crime of genocide, war crimes, the crime of apartheid, torture, and enforced disappearances. These exceptions do not apply to immunity ratione personae. The Draft Article was adopted after a vote and was severely criticized by some members of the Commission. It has also received mixed reaction from states, with some supporting its content while others have opposed it. In the aftermath of the adoption of the Draft Article, there has also been academic commentary, some of which has been critical. The (main) criticism levelled against the Draft Article is that it does not represent existing law and has no basis in the practice of states. This article seeks to evaluate the criticism by considering whether there is any state practice in support of the Draft Article proposed by the Commission.